Death and Art

Last week a group of Part-time Foundation Diploma in Art and Design students from Eastbourne’s Sussex Downs College visited the Eastbourne Ancestors project with their tutor Elaine Cameron.

The students are currently working on an interesting ‘collection’ project. They are considering the ethical, social and political implications of collections from a variety of museums, galleries and individuals and developing personal responses through art. Elaine is hoping to exhibit the students work locally and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

The week beforehand the students had paid a visit to the Wellcome Collection to see the ‘Death: A Self Portrait’ exhibition. It’s a fabulous exhibition by Richard Harris, who has collected different pieces of art that represent death in varying ways. I will be visiting the exhibition next weekend which I’m very excited about and I’ll review it here afterwards.

As a contrast the art students visited the Eastbourne Ancestors project to learn more about the Museum collection and the ethics regarding human remains in an archaeological context. I gave them a tour of our current project and then organised a session of artefact drawing of the Anglo-Saxon objects.

The collection of memento mori is something I myself am interested in, having received two lovely etchings as presents this Christmas. As you will know by now, I have a morbid fascination with the dead, I want to learn about them, who they were, how they lived and died and that’s thanks to my background in archaeology and osteoarchaeology. A little weird, but that’s just me.

Skeleton etching 1 Skeleton etching 2

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